Monday, August 6, 2007

Part 2 of ADA

Continued from Part 1 of a 4 part series

As I started editing my film I was hit with the sharp reality of how huge a task it was going to be to whittle 5 hours of video footage into a 1-hour film. I had no script, no story... just footage. I watched it all over and over again and then sat down and began piecing the footage together writing the story as I went. It was assuredly a labor of love. However, it didn't take long before I started to get sick of it all.. Seeing the same stuff over and over and over again.

Back track to August 2004: Sarah and I were painting my bedroom when a program came on the Discovery Channel about how the human body works... Kinesiology of athletes. They profiled baseball and basketball players. What happens in their body to get everything to work from head to their toes. It was an interesting program.. During which they profiled a female athlete who was running this race in Death Valley California called the Badwater 135. I was so intrigued that as we went hiking that month, I began to wonder if anyone had set out to hike the 48 peaks the fastest... like a formal speed record. I was amazed at how the human body worked when people pushed their limits. I started to do some research and discovered through Mohamed Ellozy's website that indeed a record had been set. I knew that this could be for me... a way to be remembered in life.. be famous even... have my name in a record book or on Mohameds Website.. I had a new goal.

Fast Forward to November 2004: After much research I contacted Ted Kaizer (aka. Cave Dog) and he informed me that his 48 record had been broken by Tim Seaver from Vermont. Cave Dog sent me photos for my film and I then contacted Tim. Tim was a great guy and invited me to his home to interview him for the film. Sarah and I sat in his living room and asked him many questions about his record setting journey of 187 Miles, 48 Peaks in 3 Days 15 Hours 51 Minutes. I was appreciative of his honesty as he spoke about the many negative attitudes on the online hiking forums but also how he spoke about this "Ultra Marathon Running." Early that day.. before I met Tim.. I hiked with George Fitch, one of two brothers who were the first to set a formal record of the peaks back in the 1970's... after I left Tim's, having met he and Mr. Fitch, I knew that I wanted to break this record and becoming an Ultra-Runner was my new goal.

The gears kept turning as I made the film. I bought some running gear and started to run. I couldn't even run a mile without walking but every night I was out there starting to work towards my new goal. Running gave me the chance to dream big.. and dream big I did. My plan was to finish editing my film and make an actual sell-able DVD film out of it and sell copies for Diabetes Research. Then, in July of 2005 when I set out to break Tim Seavers record, I was going to have a huge festival at the Cannon Mountain Ski Area. I figured people would come off the highway and monitor my journey through the mountains, they'd enjoy gear demo's, arts and crafts, shows and other fair like activities with the BIG catch being that they'd donate money for the ADA while they were there. This is what I HAD to do...

As the months went on I contacted the "owner" of the Views From The Top Website (VFTT), Darren. A few folks on the site had suggested I contact him before advertising my film on his site. I contacted him and asked him if I could advertise my hiking film on his hiking website and direct folks to my website where I'd be selling the film from. He agreed under the condition that in the Spring, I'd ride on his team and raise money for his annual fundraiser, a 50 Mile Bike Ride for The Brain Tumor Society. I agreed and I began to advertise my film and "opening night!"

One day. an e-mail came from a member of VFTT.. he went by Panama Jack. Panama wanted to donate $1000 to the ADA of which I was most grateful. I still had no finished product.. but all ready someone wanted to donate. But that’s not all. PJ wanted to help out in anyway he could. As December rolled around.. I was getting really close to my release date. But what I lacked was Money. Money to produce the DVDs and Money for the Venue for Opening Night. I told PJ what I needed and before I knew it he donated the $2000 it was going to cost to create the first $200 "48" DVD's and pay for the venue for the night. I was a bit leery about taking a strangers money, but we agreed that I could pay him back when we reached my fundraising goal of $48,000. I had made a great new friend... and his help was more than appreciated.

As the weeks ticked by, my professor from Hesser came over and looked over my film on a weekly basis. She's comb through it meticulously and then create a list of things I needed to fix in the film to make it better... she'd leave and I'd start fixing. I worked 8 hours a day and then edited for 10 more to get the job done.. I was tired of it.. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. But once I had the finished film, I contacted a video production company who agreed to put music on the film and work the audio to perfection. I re-recorded all of the voice over/script with them, chose the songs... it was so tiring but my film was finalized. I then used PJ's money to make the purchases of blank DVD's, cases, cover art and inserts.. etc. The production company made the 200 copies at their place.. and then I stuff the DVD cases, put the stickers on the DVDs and put them in the case. I wanted to make 500 copies.. but my professor said, "There is no WAY you'll ever sell 500 of these. Think Small John" 200 it was.

Then I met with the folks at the High School I graduated From.. Pinkerton Academy.. I had to pay them to use their brand new state of the art theatre for the night of the Film Premier.. I had to pay for a Police Detail, water and food for the patrons and put it all together. I used what was left of PJ's borrowed money and we were well on our way to making this Film a reality.

One would think that through film editing, interviewing, writing a script, re-interviewing record holders, fixing mistakes, getting venue squared away and actually making the DVDs... that this would all be enough... well it wasn't. My family was "supportive" but they though nothing of my big project.. they were unsure what to think. To them it was just another one of "Johns crazy ideas." I was doing 95% of the work alone.. I all ready wanted to quit... but I had to get the ADA involved...

As all of the above was coming along.. I contacted the ADA's Manchester Office and spoke to Pam. Pam was the area coordinator of the Diabetes Walk but also worked with the various grass roots programs that came along such as my film and the to be record attempt. But as I tried to meet with Pam various times.. it seemed she was much too busy for me. She blew me off twice and changed two other appointments. I felt like the ADA wanted nothing to do with me and like I was some kind of joke.. so I contacted the District Manager in the Boston Office. He (Michael Curren) and another person who he worked with in his office (Angel Jackson), set up a dinner meeting with me in Derry where I lived. They drove up from Boston, we sat down and had dinner. By the end of dinner I had their attention and full support of my major project to raise $48,000 for the ADA through my film and record attempt. Things were going great and they were to be on hand the night of the film premier. I filed out all of the proper paperwork with the ADA and called Panama Jack... things were getting very hectic and the true potential of this project was shining through... but more work lay ahead and advice was now coming in from everywhere... The next steps I took, in the end, proved to be the most costly..

Proceed to Part 3